April 8, 2020

A Green Snowstorm

A hayfield on a June morning

Janine Pineo Photo – A hayfield on a June morning

By John F. Chisholm •

Grass is a green snowstorm that doesn’t back off, not until September.  This has been a wet spring, too.  The grass really piles up when that happens.  There are places in our fields where it’s over five feet deep.  The dogs disappear.  I almost stepped on a fawn this morning.  When it bleated for its mother, she bounded to the rescue from fifty feet away.   She’d been invisible, hidden by blowing, drifting grass until that cry.

Thankfully, I have equipment to help me with this annual struggle.

Unfortunately, that can be part of the battle, too.

For example, I started my International tractor yesterday.  There are two gallons of oil in the crankcase to be changed.  I like to do that when the oil is hot.  Of course I install a new oil filter, too.  But that’s not everything.  Not by a long shot.  Inevitably the air cleaner is choked with dust from last year’s mowing.  The radiator needed to be blown clear, too.  Then the tractor has to be greased, fueled and checked for problems.  This year there were several.

Two grease fittings were plugged.  The throttle linkage was loose.  That had to be repaired.  The battery terminals were corroded as well.  (That’s a bit of a mystery.  I disconnect the batteries of all my summer tractors every fall.)  And so on.

I thought about everything we go through for grass while I worked.

Of course there’s trimming, mowing and haying.  Just mentioned, there’s also the equipment maintenance necessary for doing that.   But mostly there’s the time spent doing it all.  It’s huge.  In fact, the battle with grass is a four-month-long struggle that only stops when it rains.

Even that’s a mixed blessing.  Grass redoubles its growth after every shower.  That means everything else accomplished each summer is really only time stolen from grass.

You don’t believe me?

You’re sure that I’m exaggerating?

Think of the expense.  What do you pay for your lawn every year?  What did your mower cost?  What’s your budget line item for the fuel, lubricants, maintenance and time it requires?

Let’s go straight to the heart:  What do our lawns say about all of us?

Some surprisingly important things.

Who we are, just for example.  Everyone admires well-kept grounds.
But more to the point, we often imagine ourselves independent of seasonal cycles, free of the tides of the year.  Surely human superiority places us above all that?  Aren’t we beyond the fray that sends Canadian geese north every spring and south each fall?

Of course we’re not bats, woodchucks, skunks, raccoons or bears.  They hibernate.

We’re not bugs either.  Most insects don’t even survive the onslaught of winter.

But, being honest, this list goes on and on, eventually including everyone.  Us, too.  It’s a dose of humility we’re wise to swallow.  Because we’re every bit the slave to the season as all the other passengers on this planet.

Grass proves that every spring and summer.